MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala.- Project SEARCH is a non-profit that works with students with disabilities as they leave high school. The program connects interns with opportunities beyond graduation.
Instructors say Marshall County's Project SEARCH has been extremely successful in its four years.
"The average person that is differently abled.. their likelihood of getting a job is 20%. With Project SEARCH, their national average is 75%. Here in Marshall County, our average is 92.3%," says instructor Kira Galarza.
The program is like the fifth year of high school but interns get out of the classroom and learn job skills. They work in a classroom setting for about 2 hours a day, working on skills like communication, teamwork, work ethics, and building self-confidence. They then work in the hospital as non-paid hospital employees for up to 3 ten-week rotations. They work in the cafeteria with the food and with dish room. They work in Environmental Services (EVS) in areas such as garbage and linens, housekeeping, and floor tech. Interns also work with maintenance, information technology, and other areas in the hospital. After they complete their rotations, the search for employment begins.
The Luau on Sunday in Guntersville kicked off the 2019-2020 school year in a fun way.
"This is a way for our past interns to be able to come together with our new interns so that our new interns. It's a little less scary for them to come in and see who's been in the program before and what they've done and what they've been able to accomplish," says Galarza.
Project SEARCH teaches interns life long skills like communication, team work, work ethic, and self-confidence.
"Project search was very helpful in helping me overcome social anxiety because they sort of helped you practice with talking to people. I'm definitely where I am because of this program," says Cheyanne Tarbox who was previously an intern with Project SEARCH.
Marshall County's Project Search graduates work at places like Marshall Medical Center, and various food services and retail.